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Full text of "Authority and the individual"

SOCIAL    COHESION    AND    GOVERNMENT
Egypt, the most stable of which we have any know-
ledge. This stability was bought at the expense of
rigidity. And these ancient empires became stereo-
typed to a point at which they could no longer resist
foreign aggression; they were absorbed by Persia,
and Persia in the end was defeated by the Greeks.
The Greeks perfected a new type of civilization
that had been inaugurated by the Phoenicians: that
of the City State based on commerce and sea power.
Greek cities differed greatly as regards the degree
of individual liberty permitted to citizens; in most
of them there was a great deal, hut in Sparta an
absolute minimum. Most of them tended, however,
to fall under the sway of tyrants, and throughout
considerable periods had a regime of despotism
tempered by revolution. In a City State revolution
was easy. Malcontents had only to traverse a few
miles to get beyond the territory of the government
against which they wished to rebel, and there were
always hostile City States ready to help them.
Throughout the great age of Greece there was a
degree of anarchy which to a modern mind would
seem intolerable. But the citizens of a Greek city,
even those who were in rebellion against the actual
government, had retained a psychology of primitive
loyalty; they loved their own city with a devotion
> which was often unwise but almost always passionate.
The greatness of the Greeks iA individual achieve-
ment was, I think, intimately bound up with their
political incompetence, for the strength of individual
33                                      c*